Finding a work life balance has meant really thinking about what we want from life. It’s meant working out what’s more important; money or time. Maybe in 2018 it shouldn’t mean that, but unfortunately it has for us. Finding a work life balance for me, ultimately meant walking away from traditional work.
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I went back to work full time running a busy retail business when Amelia was 7 months old, and it was nearly impossible. Being a Mum hadn’t changed who I was, and I loved my job as much as I had before she was born. I hadn’t changed as a person, but something had changed. Well, lots of things actually. My work schedule became unmanageable, despite the amazing support of grandparents and other extended family members. Being the boss I could adapt my schedule, and I did for a while. Still trying fit in all my work commitments on top of trying to be everything everyone else needed me to be. But as much as I loved my job, it didn’t fulfil me in the way it once had.
Before I had kids, I was career focussed. I wanted to be the best, and I was very good at what I did. I was good at my job, a great sister, an okay daughter (sorry Mum) and a pretty good partner too. But not only did I need to make room in my life for my daughter, I wanted to. She had not become my sole purpose for living, but she had become a huge part of my life that I wanted to enjoy. I hated that she spent more time with my Mum than she did with me, and I no longer felt the urge (or had the energy) to work into the early hours of the morning.
It wasn’t long before I realised that I was going to have to cancel some stuff. Leaving my career was a tough call to make, but ultimately it wasn’t my passion anymore. Focussing so much time and energy on something I didn’t feel passionate about felt ridiculous. So I left, and took a part time job elsewhere to cover the bills. I wouldn’t say I was passionate about my new job, but it was necessary. It required very little energy and much less time to do, which opened up some big windows in my life to fill with things I was passionate about.
I also realised that I didn’t have to be perfect for everyone else. My friends understood when I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) while away whole afternoons drinking coffee three times a week, and my family knew that I was there if they needed me. I took a massive step back for a while and reassessed what was important to me. I certainly didn’t give up on or cut out anything that was important to me, I just re-jigged the balance a bit, especially the work life balance.
You’re probably thinking how lucky I was that I could afford to leave my job, that I was probably being supported by a well-earning husband or a bank balance full to the brim with life savings. I’m sorry to tell you it’s not true! I was the breadwinner of the family by a country mile, and Mr C’s salary just about covered our general living expenses. Leaving my career behind also meant leaving behind a lifestyle that I had become accustomed to. It meant having to budget our every penny, and some months being so tight we weren’t sure we’d make it to payday.
Money just didn’t feel as important anymore. It sounds crazy, really. Surely we’d need more, not less, now we had a child. But the strangest thing happened; we all got happier. We had our weekends back, we spent time together, we weren’t knackered or stressed out when we saw each other, so the time we spent was more enjoyable. Living on an extremely tight budget has also taught me a lot about where money is best spent, especially when it comes to kids and enjoying mamahood.
I don’t feel the need to spend cray amounts of money entertaining the kids; I know that there are a thousand fun things we can do for free (or very little), and I also know that sometimes the free things are not only the most fun but the most developmentally rewarding.
It might not be work in the traditional sense, but I’ve found my work life balance. Blogging is time consuming, and I definitely work just as hard as I did when I was working full time. But it’s on my terms. What I’m passionate about has certainly changed, and blogging is most definitely a fantastic addition to my life.